Robert-Jan Smits congratulates Projekt DEAL: “A great day for science”

All German research articles in Wiley journals to be published open access under new transformative agreement Germany’s Projekt DEAL and the publisher John Wiley & Sons have entered a ground-breaking transformative agreement, in line with the objectives of the Open Access 2020 initiative. Under this new agreement, all authors affiliated with 700 academic institutions in[…]

The transformative power of publisher negotiations: new resources from the ESAC Initiative

In order to accelerate the transition of scholarly publishing to an open access paradigm, the global research community united in the Open Access 2020 Initiative pursues this transformation process by converting resources currently spent on journal subscriptions into funds to support sustainable OA business models.

As more and more library consortia and individual institutions are incorporating transformative agreements into their open access strategies, in alignment with the mission of the OA2020, many have expressed the urgent need for more information on the transformative mechanisms and practical aspects of these kinds of agreements. Now, the ESAC Initiative ( has come to the rescue with the re-launch of their website ( as an information-sharing hub with a number of extremely valuable crowd-sourced tools and resources related to these transitional license models (ie Offsetting, Read & Publish, etc.).

While ESAC was originally established to develop library-driven (and not publisher-driven) standards and workflows for the growing open access publishing market that is managed at the article level rather than journal or package level, ESAC has now expanded its focus to fill a significant gap in the open access landscape, offering a place for institutions to share best practice, lessons learned and recommendations related to transformative agreements to increase the understanding of their scope and power to effect large-scale and lasting change in scholarly publishing. Areas of focus for ESAC now include data gathering, analytics and visualization related to institutional publishing trends as a basis for negotiation strategy; license models, terms and publisher compliance; as well as open access publishing cost monitoring and control.

Some of the resources now online include:

OA Market Watch

ESAC is now aggregating data and relevant information on a number of the largest subscription publishers to help the community understand their current position in the scholarly publishing market and better assess their performance in transitioning from a subscription-based publishing model to open access.

Publisher Fact Sheets

For institutions and consortia who are just beginning to create a licensing strategy to accelerate the transition to open access and for those who are already negotiating transformative agreements, ESAC’s Publisher Fact Sheets provide a summary of the characteristics, performance and lessons learned from the agreements negotiated with some of the largest subscription publishers. The Publisher Fact Sheet relative to Springer Nature is now online!

ESAC Resources

The ESAC website has also been augmented with a section featuring resources relative to transformative agreements such as terms and workflow checklists, an online tool for sharing information and best practice, and, coming soon, recommendations from the ESAC Data Working Group on gathering and analysing different kinds of publication data in order to formulate a negotiation strategy.

By sharing the knowledge gained as institutions take steps to remove their financial support of the paywall system, converting subscription budgets into funds to support open access publishing, our individual efforts will all be more successful and, collectively, more impactful. If you are negotiating transformative agreements and have data and information to share to make the ESAC tools more comprehensive and effective, please share them here ESAC is coordinated by Kai Geschuhn of the Max Planck Digital Library on behalf of and in collaboration with the global academic and research library community. Please explore and, if you have any questions, would like more information, or want to get involved, please sign up for the ESAC listserv or contact Kai directly.

OA2020 is non-prescriptive in terms of approach and embracing of any number of strategies and models to liberate scholarly journals (and our money) from the paywall system; if you have knowledge to share around additional transformative models, we invite you to share these with the OA2020 community!


Stakeholders united in the charge for transformation: Plan S and the Open Access 2020 Initiative

The Open Access movement has received an enormous boost today with the launch of Science Europe’s 10 principles of Plan S, devised by Robert-Jan Smits, the Open Access Envoy of the European Commission. Already 11 national research funding organisations have agreed to implement the 10 principles of Plan S in a coordinated way, forming cOAlition S, with the support of the European Commission and the European Research Council (ERC).

This decisive action on behalf of the research funding community reinforces the efforts of the Open Access 2020 Initiative, constituting a strategic alignment in the drive to accelerate the transition to open access with concrete measures aimed at removing our financial support of a scholarly communication system based on paywalled subscriptions.

By designating the ‘hybrid’ model of publishing as not compliant with the principles of Plan S, the funding bodies of cOAlition S are putting an end to “double dipping” and, thus, increasing the leverage power of their investments in precisely the same way that national consortia are using their subscription expenditures as leverage to inject open access into license negotiations. Like the successful flanking tactics in the Battle at Marathon, research funding organizations and research performing institutions (via their libraries and consortia) are now working on both sides of the scholarly communication chain to rein in the expenditures flowing to subscription publishers and lay siege to paywalls.

Recognizing the work of the Open Access 2020 Initiative and those research performing organizations that are taking active steps to convert their subscription expenditures into funds that support open access publishing, the President of Science Europe, Marc Schiltz specifically acknowledges transformative agreements (publish and read, offsetting, etc.) as a valuable, complementary strategy in the Preamble to Plan S:

We acknowledge that ‘transformative’ type of agreements, where subscription fees are offset against publication fees, may contribute to accelerate the transition to full Open Access. Therefore, it is acceptable that, during a transition period that should be as short as possible, individual funders may continue to tolerate publications in ‘hybrid’ journals that are covered by such a ‘transformative’ type of agreement.

As Schiltz further states, “There is no valid reason to maintain any kind of subscription-based business model for scientific publishing in the digital world, where Open Access dissemination is maximising the impact, visibility, and efficiency of the whole research process.”

A new, open paradigm in scholarly communication starts with a commitment to remove financial support of the subscription system. As Carlos Moedas, European Commissioner for Research Science and Innovation has stated, “Now is the time for us to act collectively to make [open access] a reality.”



On the effectiveness of APCs – outcomes of the 3rd ESAC workshop, Munich

Thanks to the great support from the workshop participants, the ESAC Initiative is happy to publish the final report of the 3rd ESAC workshop held in Munich last month, “On the effectiveness of APCs”:

While a significant portion of open access journals operate on independent funding mechanisms, the Article Processing Charge (APC), originally pioneered by BioMed Central as a means to secure the financial viability of journals, has grown to be one of the most prevalent business models in open access publishing, adopted by well-established pure open access publishers such as PLoS, MDPI, Hindawi, Frontiers and beyond. With the steady growth of open access publishing in recent years, particularly by traditional subscription publishers via hybrid article publishing options, born-OA journals such as Nature Communications and Scientific Reports, and transformative agreements (ie offsetting, publish and read, etc.) the need for close monitoring and control of processes, standards and workflows related to Article Processing Charges (APCs) has become crucial. Through such work academic and research libraries have the opportunity and, indeed, the responsibility to exercise oversight and management of APCs to ensure the best interests of their researchers and institutions are served.


European High-Level summit meeting on Open Access negotiations

A summit meeting was held on the topic of publisher negotiations in the context of open access strategies, conceived by the OA2020 Initiative and co-convened and hosted by the German Rectors’ Conference, at which a number of high-level representatives from national research funding bodies, university associations, rectors conferences, and national library consortia from Europe and[…]

Some short answers to big questions

The open access landscape is highly complex, and the academic community does well to reflect on the ambitions, progress and impact of the many approaches that are working toward an open information environment. To illustrate the unique and essential role of the Open Access 2020 Initiative in this landscape, here are brief answers to some important questions for consideration, which we hope will facilitate a greater understanding of OA2020 and facilitate further collaboration. […]